Nathan Heaney exclusive: There’s nothing worse than pretending to be something you’re not
Another week, another series of boxing dramas played out on social media. Nathan Heaney hasn’t had to succumb to the modern trend of playing a character online or saying outlandish things to attract attention. The middleweight has built a fanbase by being himself and and has managed to maintain the personal touch. Hand delivering the final batch of tickets to his fans has become something of a ritual for Heaney, signalling that the serious business is about to start. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
“I know that everything’s done and the training has been fantastic, it’s really good. I keep a lot of the training talk behind closed doors. As far as a lot of people are concerned, I’m just dropping tickets off all the time but everything’s gone really well,” Heaney (16-0, 6 KO’s) told 32Red.
“I think to myself, I can’t imagine anything worse than pretending to be something you’re not in order to sell tickets. I’d hate to think that people hate you because of this persona you’ve created. I think people have jumped on that from the Mayweather era. They’re looking for a way to create more notoriety. I don’t have any problem with it. I’m lucky my guys create probably the best atmosphere in boxing in my opinion.”
“I could feel that Jack was feeling the pace”
Last September, Heaney’s fight with Jack Flatley was just beginning to heat up when a horrific cut opened up over the 33-year-old’s eye. Heaney won a technical decision but the ending felt a bit anti-climactic.
Given Flatley’s pocket fighting style and Heaney’s non stop workrate, this weekend’s rematch looks certain to provide real entertainment for the fans watching live on BT Sport but it does seem like a fight that the challenger might fancy a little bit more than the champion. Heaney has been on a steady rise, each fight giving him a slight leg up in terms of profile and competition. A talented fighter like Flatley will be confident of grasping a second chance and if Heaney overlooks him,
“What it was with Jack Flatley, I was getting my cut sorted in a back room and they kept saying, ‘Rematch. Rematch.’ I thought, “Bloody hell, mate. I don’t decide my next career move while I’m getting my eye stitched up.” After that, his second was piping up online saying that Jack was gonna take over the fight which was completely the opposite to what was actually happening in the fight to be honest,” Heaney said. “After round four I could feel that Jack was feeling the pace – which wasn’t terrifically high if I’m being honest – and it just left a little narrative that he was gonna take over in the second half.
I don’t base my fighting decisions on tweets and people talking online. I spoke to George [Warren] and he wanted me out and it made sense to have this fight. It gives me the chance to prove what was gonna happen in the first fight. And there’s a better title on the line too.
“For all this to be happening is something special”
The fight might give Heaney the chance to win a WBA ranking belt but it also gives him the opportunity to cement his status as one of BT Sport’s headline attractions. In the space of sixteen fights, Heaney has played a few different roles. He has been a small hall ticket seller, a derided novelty act and last year, he finally earned a bit of respect as a decent fighter. Now he gets the chance to prove once and for all that he has developed into a threat to Britain’s top middleweights.
“My dream was to fight for Frank Warren when I was a young teenager growing up. You imagine fighting for him and fighting on TV but you never imagine being a headliner or any of the other stuff that goes on,” he said. “For all this to be happening is something special. it’s important for me to put a show on because this is the next stage. Winning the WBA Intercontinental belt and whatever can lead on after that. It definitely is the next part.
“The first few years it felt like an apprenticeship. I think Frank knows how much effort I put into my training and the shows and obviously my supporters. I appreciate the effort they put in, it’s the same people all the time continuously supporting me and bringing a few more with them each time.
“I’ve just gotta keep winning”
“These little dreams keep happening. I’ve just gotta keep winning haven’t I?”
Sometimes, dreams can become so big that it is hard to believe they actually happened until you can sit down later and spend a few quiet moments thinking about them. It is six months since Heaney stood at the top of the ramp at the famous Manchester Arena and watched as thousands of fans joined in with his now famous ‘Delilah’ ringwalk. He has had plenty of time to reminisce about how it felt to be at the centre of a cavernous arena but it has also given him time to remember that what he really loves is being able to reach out and touch his dreams.
“It was fantastic. The only disappointing thing was how far away most of my fans were. They were up there in the rafters. I’ll tell you the difference between that and this next fight – although the atmosphere was amazing – it was nowhere near as intimidating as it will be at Telford. It’s very compact and tight in there. When I boxed Diego Ramirez I had about 1100 there and it was hostile enough and loud. This time I’ll have about 1500 there.”
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